Do Writers Ever Take Vacation?

Whether I’m stepping away from my laptop or putting away my pen and notepad, I still find myself thinking about my stories. I have an extremely hard time shutting down my writing brain.

But this past week, I decided to do a temporary shut down—or at least put my writing brain in a kind of semi-pause mode. We were in Paris for my seven-year old’s spring break, and I just wanted to step away from mice, witches, wolves, pigs and peacocks, and absorb everything around me.

eiffel tower day - cloudy

I love Paris. I lived in Paris and Normandy for a number of years when I was a child, not to mention my stepmother is from Brittany, so going back to Paris is very personal. It feels like going home. And when I’m there, I have these wonderful flashbacks to my childhood—learning how to ride my bike on Rue de Bellechase, watching the puppet show in the Tuileries, and trekking to Joe Allen’s for burgers and apple pie. What can I say, we were still Americans. 🙂 And I keep hoping that when my son looks back at his childhood, he’ll have his own cherished memories of Paris.

me and noah seine 2

On the Seine

For this trip, we rented an apartment in my old hood, the 7th arrondissement, down the block from my old school, and within walking distance to the Eiffel Towel and the Tuileries. The location could not have been better.Rue de Grenelle

Doors of Ste. Clotilde

My old school

We did a bunch of touristy things—went to the top of the Eiffel Tower, visited the Catacombs, took a ride on the Bateau Mouche, and did a world-wind tour of the Pompidou Centre.

Catacombs

Catacombs

view of nd from bateau mouche

View of Notre Dame from Bateau Mouche 

At the Musée Grevin, the wax museum, I got the chance to catch up with my friend, Gerard Depardieu, and my husband managed to practice some of his karate moves with Jackie Chan. My son also enjoyed learning about the process of making a wax figure.

front of musee grevin

me and gerard d.

Me and Gerard Depardieu

michael and jacki chan

Michael and Jackie Chan 

process of making a wax figure

And when in Paris, we naturally indulged in the food. How can you not? We pretty much ate our way from arrondissement to arrondissement, and not once did we cheat from our Nutella banana crepe-a-day diet! 🙂

But the highlight of the trip was catching up with old friends and visiting the Luxembourg Gardens. In the Luxembourg Gardens, there’s an enclosed supervised play area. It costs a few euros to enter. The play area has climbing structures and jungle gyms for kids of all ages, including a replica of the Eiffel Tower, for the seven and older crowd. To my delight, my son started playing with a group of three or four children. I was hopeful he’d pick up some French words or at least try to use the few that he knew. But then I heard the mother of one of the kids yell out, “Speak French with the little boy,” and one of the kids shouted back, “But he speaks English!” Turns out they were from New York too.

Noah in Luxembourg Gardens

And while I was watching my son play, my writing brain started up again. But instead of drifting to my old stories, I started to think of new ones. So, perhaps a vacation, even a temporary one, wasn’t such a bad idea after all.

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29 comments on “Do Writers Ever Take Vacation?

  1. What a fun little vacation! Such valuable memories for your son, and a visit to some memories for you! I love the NY kids and yours wondering whether they’d need to speak French – and finding out that they didn’t! Hilarious!

    • Genevieve, The whole trip was incredible. That encounter with the American kids at Luxembourg was hysterical. The kids had a blast! And they were playing together as if they had known each other since forever. I wish we had exchanged information with the other family. They were just lovely.

  2. Sounds like you had a WONDERFUL time. And even if you were on vacation from the regular routine of writing, I’m sure your writerly mind was still absorbing lots of new material. Shall we look forward to a picture book set in Paris perhaps? I also love how you are building these wonderful memories with your son.

    • Laura, It was wonderful, and I think we all had a great time. I have been thinking of a picture book set in Paris, or abroad. Still in early development, meaning I’m not sure where I’m going with it just yet. 🙂

  3. What a great spring break memory for your son! How funny that other boy was from NY! Maybe you can write a book w/a French setting!

  4. What a wonderful and memorable spring break! I’ve been to Paris once chaperoning Student Ambassadors and loved Luxembourg Gardens. There’s definitely a book waiting in the wings about a spring break in Paris…

  5. Love this post, what a wonderful trip! I’m in Amsterdam with my husband and children right now- where my husband lived as a boy- and watched my six year old son try to play with several different children at a playground today using his very limited Dutch and just couldn’t join in, my heart ached for him. I think tomorrow we bring a ball. My 3 year old found a friend in a little British girl though. Can’t wait to hear your new stories!

    • Thanks, Amelie. It’s not easy making friends when there is that language barrier. And as a parent, it’s so hard to watch it all unfold. The second day we were at the Luxembourg Gardens, there was only a French boy in the play area. It took some time, but my son and the boy eventually started playing with each other. Lots of pointing and hand gestures, but they figured it out. I hope the ball helps. Enjoy your trip. Can’t wait to hear about your adventures.

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